The criminal justice reform bill championed by President Donald Trump has gained bipartisan support support. It has supporters from Van Jones to Jared Kushner. And it just got a big name added to the cause, Dr. Bernice King, the daughter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are naysayers, like Sen. Tom Cotton, who believe that it will release more people have been convicted of federal offenses out into society.
But King and others pointed to the differences in the bill, what it had to offer and why it was important.
From Daily Wire:
In a letter obtained by The Daily Wire from the National Diversity Coalition For Trump, King wrote in a “plea to Congress” that the “First Step Act” is an opportunity to take a “monumental” step “towards assisting and empowering the least of these in America.”
“The bill would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes and grant judges greater discretion in sentencing nonviolent drug offenders,” a Bloomberg editorial said about the bill. “It would also fund recidivism-reduction programs for low-risk inmates and allow some 2,600 drug offenders to petition for reduced sentences. Perhaps most important, the bill would require more research on criminal justice — a predicate to reducing guesswork in setting future policy on sentencing.”
King explained why passage was to everyone’s benefit.
For too long, disenfranchised populations have suffered in a punitive prison system that offers no viable pathways to reentering society. Today, over two million Americans are incarcerated in a system that does not offer the resources to bring out their intellectual and creative genius. Invariably, the world at large is impacted. Families are fractured. Children are missing out on relationships with their parents. Furthermore, the average annual cost to incarcerate prisoners is over $32,000. Prisons are draining financial resources that can be used to invest in improving families and communities.
King spoke about the importance of reaching across the aisle to make it happen and change the status quo, to pull people out of that spiral, to do what was right.
The FIRST STEP Act would provide federal judges the discretion to augment sentencing guidelines when the mandatory minimum is too harsh for some criminal offenses. The FIRST STEP Act introduces a mentor program between incarcerated youth and volunteers from faith-based or community organizations. Additionally, The FIRST STEP Act will retroactively reform unfair sentencing disparities that affected 2,600 federal prisoners convicted of crack offenses before 2010.
My mother, Coretta Scott King, said, “Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.” My parents understood that justice and equality achieved in one generation can be threatened in the next. Thus, they embraced every small victory. Incremental progress served as a foundation for progress well beyond their lifetime.
We find ourselves in a climate of fear – where reaching across political party aisles in Congress could cause severe backlash that is akin to political suicide. But there comes a time when the cry for humanity stirs so deeply that even fear must adhere to its cry. When faced with political fears, my father said, “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
King even reached across the aisle, praising Sen. Mitch McConnell and talking about his participation in the past with civil rights actions including being at the signing of the Voting Rights Bill and at the Lincoln Memorial during her father’s “I Have A Dream” speech, as she called upon him to give this bill a vote.
King called upon members to pass the bill. “I ask members of Congress to Honor My Father’s Legacy by showing the world we can come together…because Together We Win… With Love for Humanity!”
You can check out her full letter here.
And check out the video from Diamond and Silk also encouraging bipartisan support for the bill.